To celebrate Valentine’s Day, one of my coworkers plans to surprise his girlfriend by taking her to an expensive French restaurant that she has been dying to visit for the past year. He made the reservations on the sly a few months ago and he’s kept it top secret.
The woman sitting next to me on the train last week bragged to her friend in the next row that she was going to “steal” her spouse away for a weekend trip to the mountains. She put special emphasis on no phone calls, fresh snow, and wine.
My wife and I have simpler plans in mind—possibly a quite dinner together or getting together with our two sons—but we’ll still find a way to celebrate us. Valentine’s Day has become an economic juggernaut, with couples spending more than $18 billion last year. In the United States, about 190 million Valentine’s Day cards are mailed each year, not including the hundreds of millions of cards school children exchange.
While I get the commercialism associated with Valentine’s Day I prefer to see another side. When I think of Valentine’s Day, I think of:
–The old couple I saw recently in a restaurant, who sat opposite from each other and held each other’s hands, like it would take a Mack truck to pull them a part. In fact, they only let go to sip their sodas, quickly rejoining like their lives depended on it. They talked, watched the other customers come and go, and just enjoyed spending their evening with each other.
–The young lesbian couple I saw sitting in the park the other day during my lunch time walk, watching their son climb the steps to the slide. Each time he came sliding down the slide, they’d raise their arms and let out a loud whoop. He, of course, would giggle and then run to the steps and start over again. People can fight all they want about sexual orientation, but to me the couple looked simply like two parents happy to spend time with child.
–The handmade cards that my kindergarten class made and how I made a special attempt to cut on the line for the kids I was especially close to in the class. And then later in elementary school, the store-bought cards that we bought and how I wrote out my name in a flourishing cursive font to set my cards apart from the rest of the boys in the class.
–The little boy and girl who I see regularly walk to school together. I think they’re brother and sister. I don’t see them every morning, but when I do they’re always looking out for each other.
–My wife and how I need to buy her flowers because I stormed out of the house earlier this week like a rocket leaving waste to everything in my way. I was 15 minutes late and I didn’t want to be late to my new job. While understandable, I still need to get her flowers. She’s got my back. She’s my confidant and soulmate.
Oh, Valentine’s Day is a made-up holiday. It’s commercialism to the nth degree, but you know what, maybe a day where we’re a little nicer to each other, if only for 24 hours, isn’t such a bad idea.
Happy Valentine’s Day.